If you have ever fed your chickens scratch grains then you know that they go absolutely nuts for it. They scramble around pecking up the various grains and seeds as fast as they can, fighting and scratching for each last piece (hence the name 'scratch'!). Not very nutritious, but a great cold weather energy source for the chickens and they love it! I toss a scoopful into the run each afternoon in the winter a few hours before dark.
As soon as I go into the storage room where I keep the bag of scratch, my girls know they are going to get some and they all gather excitedly at the door.
Since its not nutritionally complete, scratch is not a substitute for layer feed, but should be considered a treat. While the mixed grains are nutritious, they only contain about half the protein that chickens need in their regular diet, so should be only given after your chickens have had a chance to fill up on their regular feed.
More importantly, the body heat generated digesting the corn and grains in the scratch helps keep chickens warm during cold nights, so it should only be fed during the colder months. It also gives the chickens something to do when there aren't any bugs or grass in the run to keep them occupied.
Berry Box Scratch Treat Toy - You can fill empty plastic berry boxes with the scratch and put them in your run. Your chickens will love kicking them around to get the treats out. This is a great way to keep them occupied and busy doing something other than pecking at each other if they are confined indoors due to bad weather.
All of the major chicken feed distributors sell pre-bagged scratch grains which contain a variety of grains and cracked corn, but you can also easily make your own mix.
(recipe courtesy Hobby Farms Magazine)
Mince three garlic cloves and put them in a glass with 1/4 Cup olive oil. Set the glass on a sunny windowsill or warm spot for 3-4 hours. When ready to use, stir the oil mixture into 2 Cups of layer crumble and 1 Cup scratch and feed immediately. Feeds 10 chickens. Discard any leftovers. If our flock is any indication though, there will never be anything left! My girls love this recipe, I urge you to try it.
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